Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Montgomery, Walter

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1332236Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 38 — Montgomery, Walter1894John Joseph Knight

MONTGOMERY, WALTER (1827–1871), actor, whose real name was Richard Tomlinson, is said to have been a descendant of an old Norfolk family. He was born 25 Aug. 1827, at Gawennis, Long Island, United States, America, but soon settled in England. While occupied in business in Cheapside with a shawl manufacturer named Warwick he took part in amateur entertainments, appearing at the Soho Theatre, subsequently known as the Royalty, in 'Othello.' Engaged by Chute, the manager of the Bath stage, he played at that house and in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich, and Yarmouth. In Nottingham, where he became a favourite, he entered on management. His first appearance in London took place at the Princess's, 20 June 1863, as Othello, and inspired little interest. On the 24th he played Romeo to the Juliet of Stella Colas. Under his own management he appeared as Shylock, 22 Aug. In the following March he gave, at the St. James's Hall, readings from Shakespeare, Hood, Tennyson, Macaulay, and the 'Ingoldsby Legends.' At Drury Lane he replaced Phelps 6 March 1865 as Leonatus Posthumus to the Imogen of Miss Helen Faucit, and in April, for the benefit of James Anderson, who enacted Mark Antony, he played Cassius in 'Julius Caesar.' In July he undertook a temporary management of the Haymarket, at which house, with Miss Madge Robertson (now Mrs. Kendal) as Ophelia, he appeared on the 29th as Hamlet, obtaining a moderate success. He also played Claude Melnotte in the 'Lady of Lyons,' King John, Shylock, and Iago to the Othello of Ira Aldridge, and was the original Lorenzo in 'Fra Angelo,' a tragedy in blank verse, by Mr. William Clark Russell. A not very successful experiment closed on 9 Nov. In November 1866 Miss Faucit began a twelve nights' engagement at Drury Lane, and Montgomery was Orlando to her Rosalind, and Sir Thomas Clifford in the 'Hunchback' to her Julia. He made soon afterwards some reputation in America and Australia, being well received as Louis XI and Sir Giles Overreach. On 31 July 1871 he began with 'Hamlet' a short and unprosperous season at the Gaiety, in the course of which he played, besides other characters, Sir Giles Overreach, Louis XI, and Meg Merrilies. He married on 30 Aug. Miss Laleah Burpee Bigelow, an American. On 1 Sept., at 2 Stafford Street, Bond Street, he shot himself, while, according to the verdict given at an inquest, of unsound mind. He was buried in Brompton cemetery. His acting was pleasing if not very subtle. His appearance was good and his voice powerful.

[Personal recollection; Scott and Howard's E. L. Blanchard; Times, 4 Sept. 1871; Era, 10 Sept. 1871.]

J. K.